How it all began

From Weekend Seminar to International Opera Course

The idea of organising a weekend seminar to bring together singing students from the two East and West Berlin music academies led Kammersängerin Prof. Jutta Schlegel to the castle in 1991. The course, which took place from 4 to 7 July 1991, was such a success for the organisers that an extension was immediately considered. In 1992, 22 young singers from Germany (mainly Berlin) and Lithuania received a week of singing lessons, correpetition and interpretation courses at the 1st International Singing Seminar at Beeskow Castle. In that first year, the soloists at the modest final concert received hand-plucked bouquets of cornflowers, but just one year later the most successful singers were honoured with awards at the Festive Opera Gala.

Since then, the singing seminar has expanded steadily. The number of classes offered, the number of applicants and the number of teachers has grown rapidly. Outstanding teachers and artists joined the staff and are still part of the core of the seminar today. Whether it is the work with the orchestra, the expansion of the lessons to include oratorios with Matthias Alward, drama classes and professional development coaching or the expansion of the programme to include the entertaining opera collage “Opera in the Barn” – new ideas gradually expanded the range of the singing seminar for the students.

Uniting to form the Opera Oder Spree

The decision to perform Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s church opera “Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo” in the Collegiate Church of Neuzelle in 1998 was a venture, but also a new departure. The step was taken: to bring opera to Neuzelle with the aspiration of producing it locally. A product from the region and for the region with many local and international artists.

In 2000, the opera venture in Neuzelle was successfully united with the International Singing Seminar and established together with the forces from Beeskow and Neuzelle under Oper Oder Spree. This created new musical and artistic synergies.

Since then, 24 productions have been created in Neuzelle, performed in the Kreuzhof Neuzelle and at the Burghof in Beeskow, and in parts also in Frankfurt (Oder) on the island of Ziegenwerder.

The world as a guest in Beeskow and Neuzelle

For more than 30 years, Beeskow Castle and for more than 20 years Neuzelle Monastery have been meeting places for many artists from Germany, Europe and the rest of the world every summer, true to the motto “Music is our common language”. From the beginning, the meeting of young singers from East and West has been an important principle of the seminar. Shortly after reunification, the first weekend course in 1991 focused on students from the two East and West Berlin music academies, but the singing seminar soon opened up to Eastern Europe. Already at the beginning of the 1990s, the first connections to Eastern European universities and conservatoires were established, which were intensified and expanded over the years. The presentation of their best students has enriched the seminar ever since. Scholarships from local companies and private individuals have enabled Eastern European students to participate in the singing seminar. Since 2012, there has also been firm cooperation with the international singing competitions “Bruna Spiler” in Montenegro and Lazar Jovanović in Serbia. In 2015, thanks to the efforts

In the meantime, the course is known far beyond the borders of Germany and participants from many different European countries as well as from America, Asia and Australia meet here. In the past 30 years, more than 700 young singers from all over the world have been part of the International Opera Course at Beeskow Castle and the productions in Neuzelle.